4 Grooming Product Ingredients Men Should Avoid

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُه

Foley has outlined four toxic chemicals you should start to avoid right away. These are known for their negative effects on men’s health specifically.

While a lot of natural fragrances are scented with essential oils, which can have additional benefits for your skin, synthetic ones often contain damaging phthalates. “If you see ‘fragrance’ or ‘perfume’—even ‘natural perfume’—on an ingredient list, you should always question what that means,” Foley said. “In the US, it’s considered a trade secret, so companies don’t have to disclose what’s inside. It can be anything, and it’s usually what cheapens the product. [A product] can have a ton of phthalates, which have a lot of links to long term health and reproductive issues, especially for men.” 

“Sulfates are widely known to be toxic at this point, for good reason,” Foley said, even though they’re found in soap, shampoo, and shaving cream. “They’re a surfactant—they’re usually what makes things foam. We’ve been trained into thinking we need something to foam in order to work. You don’t. Sulfates have also been linked to kidney and respiratory and additional longer term issues.”

The foaming action of surfactants also has a tendency to strip away sebum, the oily, waxy substance that defends our skin from drying out and protects it from fungal and bacterial infections. 

These have been in dispute for quite some time, because they help extend the shelf life of our products, so that should be good, right? Not necessarily. Chances are, they are extending the shelf life before they even make it you, rather than how long they are active and potent on your shelf at home. They’re not doing any good sitting in a warehouse.

“Parabens are a completely different class,” Foley said. “They’re a preservative, and they’re also widely known at this point to most people, and they are a big no-no. They’re found in so many products, and they may have estrogen making properties.” 

“Anything that says antibacterial likely has triclosan in it,” Foley said. “At the end of the day, just using regular soap to get rid of the bacteria that you want to get rid of is the most effective thing you can do. Triclosan is specifically an endocrine destructor.” This means it interferes with important hormone functions, which can directly affect our brains, our immune systems, and our reproductive systems. “It has actually been proven to lead to skin issues,” Foley added. “The good thing is, it’s starting to get banned in the U.S, although you’ll still see it in a lot of skin products, especially toothpaste.”

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